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About the Characters

Chögyal Namkhai Norbu

Chögyal Namkhai Norbu

Chögyal Namkhai Norbu was born in Derge in eastern Tibet in 1938. As a child, he was recognized as the reincarnation of Dzogchen master Adzom Drukpa (1842-1924) and later by the sixteenth Karmapa as a reincarnation of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (1594-1651), the first Dharmaraja of Bhutan.

While still a teenager, he completed a rigorous program of traditional studies, receiving teachings from some of the greatest masters of the time. In 1955 he met Changchub Dorje (1826-1961), his main Dzogchen teacher, whose lifestyle and way of teaching deeply inspired him.

In 1960, following the deterioration of the social and political situation in Tibet, he moved to Italy at the invitation of the well-known Eastern studies professor Giuseppe Tucci. There, he helped spread knowledge and awareness of Tibetan culture in the West.

After teaching Yantra Yoga in Naples for several years, in the mid-1970s Namkhai Norbu started giving Dzogchen teachings. In 1981, he founded the first Dzogchen center in Arcidosso, in Italy’s Tuscany region. Since then, thousands of people from all over the world have become members of the Dzogchen community. Centers have been created in the United States, in various parts of Europe, in Latin America, in Russia and in Australia.

In 1989, Namkhai Norbu founded the Shang Shung Institute, whose mission is to safeguard Tibetan culture by promoting it. Namkhai Norbu continues to travel all over the world, giving talks and holding retreats attended by thousands of people.

Khyentse Yeshe

Khyentse Yeshe

Khyentse Yeshe, originally known as Yeshi, son of Dzogchen master Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, was born in Rome in 1970. At a very early age he was recognized as the reincarnation of Khyentse Rinpoche Chökyi Wangchuk, an important Dzogchen master and maternal uncle of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu. After receiving both a Western and a Buddhist education, Yeshi studied philosophy at Rome University and engineering at Bologna University, subsequently working as a manager and information technology business consultant.

In 2007, Yeshi visited central Tibet, where he received a rapturous welcome at the monastery of Khyentse Rinpoche Chökyi Wangchuk. He determined that his life’s work lay in keeping the Dzogchen teaching and Dzogchen community alive. Since then, he has traveled extensively, giving Dzogchen teachings worldwide and bringing fresh insight into the Dzogchen tradition with a contemporary style influenced by his Western upbringing.

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